Reflecting on One Year of 988

by: Bridget Britton Behavioral Health Program Coordinator

As we transition into National Suicide Prevention Month, there was a milestone marking one of the launch of 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Nationwide. This switch allowed for youth and adults to go from memorizing a 1-800 number to the easy-to-remember 988.

What is 988?
• Think the equivalent of 911 only 988.
• Simply call, text, or chat 988 when you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health challenge or thoughts of suicide.
• A mental health professional will answer the call and it is completely anonymous, available 24/7.
What have the benefits been?
• Almost 5 million people have contacted the line in the last year, 2 million more than the previous one.
• The average answer time went from 2 minutes and 39 seconds to 41 seconds.
• There are specialized options for Veterans, Spanish subnetwork, and LGBTQI youth.
• It is available in all 50 states.

Where can the work continue to improve when it comes to 988?
• The message change is still not widely known. 988 is still new, and advocacy for the change is still crucial. There is an amazing toolkit available with free resources for people to use.
• Breaking down the stigma that it is “okay to not be okay”, and talking to someone about mental health in the moment reduces the need for future services.
• Ongoing improvements to the infrastructure of 988 calling centers. Currently, the call centers are statewide and cover regional areas, but the goal is to make them more localized in each county to mimic 911 services.

Remember, you or anyone you know can call 988! Help spread that word to reach out for support anytime anywhere.

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